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Befriending Your Goals: What Scientists, Actors, and Execs Have To Say

Woman looks upI’ve seen it time and again but it never ceases to inspire me—creating and achieving meaningful goals can be a path for living and leading wellbeing. Leaders who recognize the transformative power of goal pursuit know that it can galvanize a culture where people thrive, bringing energy to life and work. The trick is to be sure that we are driving the goals, rather than the goals driving us.

Whether it’s a personal aspiration like getting your finances in order, or an organizational target to increase company innovation by X percent, the effort of achieving a desired result taps into our innate drive to grow, evolve and benefit ourselves and others. Goals help us step up to—and into—a more expansive, connected, resourceful, wiser version of who we are.

So what do scientists, authors, businesspeople and others say about achieving a healthy relationship with goals? Here are four pearls of wisdom that you might find valuable:

1. Adopt goals that provide clear direction: Mathematician and deacon Lewis Carroll clearly explains why in his iconic Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.

Alice: Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?

The Cat: That depends a good deal on where you want to get to…

Alice: I don’t much care where…

The Cat: Then it doesn’t matter which way you go…

2. Don’t be attached to the outcome: Physicist Will Keepin claims that when we’re too attached to results, “we rise and fall with our success and failures, which is a path to burnout.” Instead, we can learn to be present to, and even reap joy and energy from the journey.

3. Make your goal a force of attraction: In his book Good Business, psychology professor and author Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi writes, “…perhaps the most distinguishing trait of visionary leaders is that they believe in a goal that benefits not only themselves, but others as well. It is such vision that attracts the psychic energy of other people, and makes them willing to work beyond the call of duty for the organization.” I’ve seen this kind of visionary goal-setting rally families, communities and even entire cities and countries.

4. Max out your humanity with only one goal: Actress and executive Oprah Winfrey told a Harvard graduating class, “You will find true success and happiness if you have only one goal. There really is only one, and that is this: to fulfill the highest, most truthful expression of yourself as a human being. You want to max out your humanity by using your energy to lift yourself up, your family and the people around you.”

When it comes to pursuing goals for living and leading wellbeing, what pearls of wisdom help you maintain a healthy perspective? Please share your insights so that we can learn together!